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Utah Jazz’s Donovan Mitchell will serve as University of Utah commencement speaker

All-Star guard will give the keynote and address graduates virtually on May 6

(Leah Hogsten | The Salt Lake Tribune) Utah Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell (45) waits for the game to start as the Utah Jazz host the Memphis Grizzlies, Mar. 26, 2021 at Vivint Arena.

Utah Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell, a two-time NBA All-Star, will give the keynote address at the University of Utah’s virtual general commencement ceremony.

The campus-wide commencement ceremony will take place virtually on Thursday, May 6 at 7 p.m., streaming on utah.edu/live. (In-person college convocations will be held May 5-8, 2021.)

“Donovan Mitchell is a favorite of basketball fans and our community because of his commitment to excellence, education and social justice,” Utah President Ruth V. Watkins said in a statement. “He shows by example what one person can do to influence the lives of countless others and how to step forward to advocate for change with grace and goodwill.”

Mitchell, whose mother, Nicole, is a former teacher at Greenwich Country Day School in Connecticut, has made educational opportunities for low-income students and people of color one of his off-court priorities.

In March 2020, after the league went on hiatus due to the coronavirus pandemic, he announced in an appearance on “Good Morning America” his partnership with Granite School District to help provide meals for at-risk children who may otherwise be going without them.

Shortly after signing a lucrative contract extension with the Jazz prior to the 2020-21 NBA season, he announced a $12 million donation to Greenwich Country Day School, to be split between a scholarship fund enabling low-income students to attend, an annual “faculty support fund” which will provide a financial reward to select teachers, and a new gymnasium.

This past summer, Mitchell also emerged as one of the NBA’s most prominent young voices on issues of racial and social justice. After publicly advocating for Louisville EMT Breonna Taylor (who was shot and killed in her home in a no-knock police raid gone awry) and for Jacob Blake (a Black man shot multiple times and seriously injured by a Kenosha, Wis., police officer), Mitchell appeared on a panel with two other NBA players to query then-Vice Presidential candidate Kamala Harris about myriad issues they believe to be of importance to the Black community.

Mitchell went on to earn the offseason NBA Cares Community Assist Award as a result of his advocacy.

Ephraim K. Kum, president of the Associated Students of the University of Utah, said he is “incredibly excited for students to hear from Donovan Mitchell. He has long been one of my favorite players, not just because of his abilities as an athlete, but also for his inspiring leadership, his genuine commitment to our community and his willingness to speak up on social justice issues.

“He is a role model in every sense of the word, and I know his comments will be a light for many,” Kum added.


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